Binging with Babish: KFC from Stranger Things

Binging with Babish: KFC from Stranger Things

“Forgot about the time and then before you know it…” “…Oh my God, it’s 5 ‘o clock.” “It’s fine.” “Right.” “It’s Great!” “I love KFC.” “Ah but-” “-Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” [Music] *Gratuitous Crunch* “It’s finger lickin’ good.” *Grunt of Approval* BABISH: Heywhazzup, guys, welcome back to “Binging with Babish” where, this week, I’m very excited to announce that the official “Binging with Babish Cookbook: The First 100 Recipes from the Show” is available for pre-order now. Head over to [see url above] where if you pre-order before the October 22nd release date you get access to special content. More that later, because it seems as though I have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 herbs and spices before me. So, we must be taking a crack at the Colonel. Although I will contend that there must be a 12th herb and/or spice… … that being MSG [Monosodium Glutamate] because it’s listed on their ingredients list. Which is not a dig against KFC; MSG is delicious. (And totally safe) So, with that in mind, let us construct our chicken breading. We’re starting with: 2/3 tsp of salt 1/2 tsp of thyme 1/2 tsp of basil 1/3 tsp of oregano 1 tsp of celery salt 1 tsp of black pepper 1 tsp of dried mustard 4 tsps of paprika 2 tsps of garlic salt 1 tsp of ground ginger and 3 tsps of white pepper and, of course, Sander’s little secret: 3/4 tsp of MSG. Tiny whisk together into 2 cups of all purpose flour. Next up, we’ve got to tackle the marinade… …or at least what KFC calls, “the marinade”: an undisclosed mixture of water, salt, and a lot of MSG, which is brought to a boil, and into which the chicken is dunked before it is breaded. Speaking of which, here’s the man of the hour: the… chicken. An 8 piece bucket is essentially a whole chicken broken down. So, that’s exactly what we’re gonna do. I’ve covered this in previous episodes. If you wanna see how to break down a chicken, Click the link in the upper right hand corner right… Now Once you’re all done, you should have 8 pieces plus a spine and wings, which we’re gonna hang onto for later. KFC fries its chicken in a proprietary blend of oils. So, I’m just gonna use my two favorites: Canola and Peanut. And so, now, it’s time to start dunking our chicken in various substances. First, into the “marinade” for 7 seconds. Taking out, shaking 7 times, bringing it on over to the breading, dumping it in without caution or foresight, and making sure that each piece is evenly, and profoundly, coated in the dredge. At this point, KFC shakes the chicken 7 times to remove excess flour But I’m just gonna sort of shake it off a little bit and dump it into some 375 degree Fahrenheit oil, where we are going to allow it to fry relatively undisturbed, but flipping after about 6 minutes, frying for a total of about 10 minutes until the exterior is deeply golden brown and crisp. So, we’ve got our first drumsticks out. Let’s see how it compares to some actual KFC. (The KFC being on the left) Upon inspecting their ingredients list once again, I saw that they used powdered, dried egg whites, which gives them a cragglier, better-developed crust, but the flavors are pretty spot on. So, we’re going to supplement with an egg and buttermilk wash. This time, straight out from the “marinade,” into the flour dredge, then into the buttermilk and egg mixture, and back into the flour dredge, effectively making something that more resembles extra crispy chicken, rather than original recipe. So, I might not have hit the mark spot on, but I’m pretty happy with the way that this crust is looking. But, let’s see how it tastes… and it… tastes awesome. For super quick and easy fried chicken, this is not a bad way to do it, but it’s lacking a lot of the flavors that I look for in my fried chicken, most notably: my way of salt and buttermilk. Also, these buckets of fried chicken look absolutely ridiculous without sides. So, let’s make some biscuits the way that I imagine KFC makes them, which is: frozen ones. The ingredients list on these Pillsbury Grands!™ is almost identical to that of KFC’s. Likewise, I’m sure powdered mashed potatoes and powdered gravy are gonna do just fine. But we’re gonna upgrade our gravy the same way the Colonel does: By adding what’s called, “crackle,” or as I call it, “Brown, Sloppy Gold.” The residue that builds up on the bottom of the pot after deep frying adds a tremendous depth of flavor to gravy, and I just… simply cannot recommend it enough. So, now that we’ve got our chicken fried, our potatoes reconstituted, our gravy upgraded, and our biscuits out the oven. Finally, we have a facsimile of what was being consumed on-screen. Let’s just get our chicken center stage here and –if you ask me– it looks the part, and it tastes the part. I really enjoy KFC, I think it is a fast food masterclass. But, obviously, everything here has room for improvement. Biscuits made with butter, mashed potatoes made by… mashing potatoes, and the chicken, which could dearly benefit from an overnight bath in buttermilk. So, please excuse my casual attire while I break down another chicken into 8 pieces, because it’s late at night and I’m getting them ready for their bedtime brine. Into a large food-safe bucket goes 16 oz of buttermilk along with the aforementioned 12 herbs and spices, along with an extra tbsp of kosher salt, tiny whisked together and followed shortly by our chicken pieces, which we wanna really press down in there –give ’em a good mix– and make sure that they are evenly coated in the buttermilk brine. Then, this guy is headed into the fridge for at least 6 hours and up to 24. Taking it out once or twice during its marinade time to give it a good jostlin’. Then, while the chicken marinates, we’re going to make some optional stock. In a large saucepan, I’m deeply browning our chicken wings and spine pieces in a little bit of vegetable oil over high heat, adding some stuff like: a whole onion cut in half, a handful of carrots, a handful of celery, a bunch of fresh thyme, and a halved head of garlic. Once the chicken has some nice brown color on it, we’re gonna deglaze the pot with 8 cups of cold water, Bring the whole thing to a simmer, lower the heat until it reaches a bare simmer, and keep it there for about 4 hours until we have a Deeply. Flavored. Golden. Chicken stock, which is gonna be just perfect for making some gravy. In a smaller saucepan, we are melting: 6 tbsps of butter until foaming adding 1/3 cup all purpose flour whisking and cooking for an additional minute before slowly streaming in our chicken stock; whisking constantly to prevent clumping, and adding about 3 cups worth along with a good glug of soy sauce for both flavor and color. Then we’re gonna bring that to a bare simmer for 3-4 minutes until it gets nice and thick and… gravy-like. As always, taste for seasoning, then we’re gonna cover it up and set it aside, taking care not to touch the HOT, HOT handles, because we got other stuff to make, chief among which are the mashed potatoes. 4 lbs of Russetts get peeled, chopped into 1 inch cubes, and placed into a pot of cold water. We’re, then, bringing this pot over to the stove-top, where –as you might have guessed– we are bringing the whole affair to a boil. Once a boil is reached, we are cooking for 12-16 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. We are, then, draining, reserving the empty pot, rinsing the potatoes with hot tap water, and then commencing ricing, that is: placing a few chunks of potato in a potato ricer and pressing through, creating this nice, potato-spaghetti effect. Then, to our potato-spaghetti, we are adding: 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces and 2 cups of warm milk, and some kosher salt and I’m going with white pepper to maintain the color of the potatoes. We’re using a lot of milk here, but KFC’s mashed potatoes are pretty thin, so, I wanna recreate that consistency. As always, taste for seasoning and set aside, because we’re moving on to my favorite part of the day: Buttermilk biscuits. Thanks to a recipe courtesy of “America’s Test Kitchen,” we are weighing out: 13 1/2 oz. of all purpose flour 2 tbsps of sugar 4 tsps of baking powder 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1/2 tsps of kosher salt. This is getting tiny whisked together until homogeneous. And then, we begin the slightly labor-intensive –but totally worth it– act of grating 2 sticks of frozen butter using the slightly larger holes on a cheese grater. Unlike chopping up the butter in… say… a food processor, this makes nice, thin, long strands of butter that are gonna be perfect for layering. We’re just gonna add the butter to the flour mixture, give it a good mix around, making sure that all the pieces are coated, carefully measure out 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk, add it to the mixture, and give it a good stirrin’. Nothin’ too crazy. It’s not gonna come together into a ball; We just want to hydrate as much of the flour as possible before turning it out onto a generously floured worktop, where we are going to continue to try to coax it together into a sort of rectangle, which, using a generously floured rolling pin, we’re going to roll out to the best of our ability. Every instinct is going to tell you that this dough is too dry, but DON’T ADD LIQUID OF ANY KIND! Just roll it out to a 16 by 9 inch rectangle and fold in thirds like a letter, preferably with a bench scraper, like this one, which helps a lot in the shaping process: rolling it out, once again, into a 16 by 9 rectangle and folding in thirds, repeating the process 5 times, effectively making something closer to a quick puff pastry than a biscuit dough. But, as you can imagine, all those little shreds of butter are getting thinned, and flattened, and layered, And, as you can see, our dough is starting to become more and more cohesive. Once we have completed 5 rolls, fluvs [folds], and turns, we are placing the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, covering in plastic wrap, and refrigerating for 30 minutes to firm up. Once a-thoroughly chilled, we are turning out onto a re-floured work surface, rolling out to a roughly 9 by 9 square-ish shape(?), and then, using a very sharp knife that we have dusted in flour, we’re gonna start trimming off the edges. Make sure you make nice, clean, downward cuts: no wiggling, no sawing motions, no back and forth, all of which is going to inhibit your biscuits’ rise. And then, once we’ve got the edges trimmed off, we’re cutting cleanly into 9 square biscuits. Then, we’re placing back on the parchment-lined baking sheet and brushing with butter. By now, you’re probably asking, “What’s up with the square biscuits?” Well, cutting these into squares reduces trimming, and trimming never really rises quite the same when you’ve re-rolled it out. Anyway, these guys are going into a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 to 25 minutes until they are gorgeous. They must be cooled on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before consumption, but you’re gonna have a hard time waiting, because look at those layers. These make Pillsbury Grands!™ look like Pillsbury… Casio… Keyboard. As in Grand Piano uh… versus…
[Should have gone with Blands] ANYWAY! Finally, we’re back on chicken, and we’re making a dredge the exact same way we made with the first batch, ‘cuz I liked the way it looked, I liked the way it tasted, I liked the way it behaved. But, to help make it extra crispy, we’re adding about 1/2 a cup of corn starch, tiny whisking together, and retrieving the chicken from the fridge, where it lies in wait. J. Kenji López-Alt has a great trick where he adds a few tbsps of marinade to the dredge, mixing it up with your fingers (or a fork), creating tiny little bits of breading that are gonna stick to your chicken and make it Even. More. Crispier.
[Because **** comparative form grammar] Likewise, Sean Brock has a trick where he breads all of his chicken at once. Hence, why I’m using a nice, wide casserole here. This, basically, just helps hydrate even more of the dredge, so you get more craggles and crunch in your final product. Once everyone’s in their flour-y bed, we’re gonna let them get to know each other for about 10 minutes. Then, we’re gonna walk back on camera and notice some schmutz on our apron here. (That’s no good.) Then, we’re gonna walk back on camera and retrieve our chicken, which is ready for frying at long last. Into the same blend of oils it goes,
(At 400 degrees Fahrenheit, this time) frying for 6-9 [Nice] minutes until golden brown and crisp, placing on a wire rack, and keeping in a low oven until all of the chicken has finished frying: the dark meat registers 175 and the white meat registers 165. Then, once everyone is good and fried, we are scooping up the Brown, Sloppy Gold™ off the bottom of the pot, and adding it to our gravy. And now, it’s time to present the PERFECT meal for both July 4th and the return of “Stranger Things”: Buttermilk fried chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, and flaky buttermilk biscuits. I also like to hit the chicken with a little, final sprinkle of kosher salt before fixin’ muhself a plate. Lemme go ahead and answer your most burning question and tell you that I am a drumstick guy, but I would gleefully eat any piece of chicken on this table. It is juicy. It is crunchy. It is flavorful. It’s the best fried chicken I’ve ever made and I WILL be back for seconds. [Music: Broke for Free – XXV] BABISH: Hey Folks, so, as I mentioned earlier, my new cookbook: “Binging with Babish” the companion cookbook is available for pre-order now. It is getting released on October 22nd and features the first 100 recipes from my show, beautiful photography, funny stories, and inside glimpses into my weird and wild world of food recreation. And, if you pre-order the book, you’ll get access to special blooper photos, sneak peeks, and an exclusive recipe. Head on over to… …to pre-order your copy today.

100 thoughts on “Binging with Babish: KFC from Stranger Things

  1. Super late to the party because when you uploaded this and announced your cookbook I quickly preordered it and forgot to actually watch the episode. It just popped up on my home page again so now here we are.

  2. KFC pressure cooks their chicken and it’s shipped and stored in the salt water brine until it’s rinsed right before breading

  3. If you enjoy salmonella (or at least undercooked chicken) then follow this video (if you don't believe me then skip to 2:44 where he shows a red chicken insterior vs. KFC's fully cooked chicken). There is absolutely, positively, no way you can deep fry chicken at 375 without completely burning the batter. And it takes longer than 10 minutes. Instead, I would suggest deep frying at 300 for 15-30 minutes. This is an incredibly dumb video because I've tried deep fried chicken before with many failures and, finally with success…by not frying it at 350+ (which keep in mind that KFC doesn't even deep fry their chicken–it's pressure cooked).

  4. Isn’t KFC a 9 Cut?

    Or maybe that’s just here in Australia. When I worked there it was 2 Thighs, 2 Wings, 2 Drums, 2 Ribs and a Breast.

  5. America … cannot believe you measure butter by "sticks" and what the heck is a biscuit (something totally different in most other countries)

  6. Maybe other KFC do it differently when i worked there we only dunked the chicken in regular tap water no MSG we had to change the bucket every other order but not msg or anything

  7. I don't get drumstick people. I mean sure technically it might be superior in some ways… But I just can't go past the cleanness of breast and/or crunchiness of the wings.

  8. Babish: You might be wondering, what's up with the square biscuits?
    My last brain cell: it's cause you don't cut corners

  9. Babish!!! Please do an apple turnover from Once Upon a Time! It’s fall so apples are real yummy rn and it don’t gotta be poisonous!

  10. Forget the MSG. Use KOSHI RICE that's activate. Let your chicken marinade in that over night. Everything else he does here and even better tasting chicken. You can thank Babish's friend who made a 32inch pancake together.

  11. Jesus is coming soon no time left call upon the Lord now ask him to forgive you of all your sins. Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved Say Father in Heaven, I believe that Jesus died for my sins And God will impart eternal life to your spirit.

  12. I love your gravy recipe but I like to replace 1/3 of the chicken stock with vitamin D milk and instead of just using random flour, the same flour that was used to coat the chicken

    And save the breading for future dinners that shit’s still good

  13. Do not remember using this marinade. I remember just plain water. I do remember that the pressure cooker matters A LOT. Henny Penny produces FAAAR better chicken than Collectromatic. Dunno why. Just does. Same as despite arguing with my manager for weeks on end, proper KFC gravy is made with cracklings and not that plastic tasting cracklingless gravy.

  14. I have to wonder if the quality changes by location. It's been a while since I last tried KFC in Arizona and thought it was good.

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